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Cosplay Adventures in Progress

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Well, this is interesting. Trying something new today – cosplay! If you’ve never heard the term cosplay it’s basically dressing up like a character either from a book, movie, tv show, comic, video game, etc. It’s like Halloween for geeks all year round.

I’ve been slowly making historical costumes on the side but this is something pretty different and I’ve never done it before. I thought to get started I ought to try something “easy” first. And bear in mind this is an in-progress costume. I still have more parts to complete.

This is Elizabeth from the 2013 game Bioshock Infinite. I don’t mention it much but I’m a big gamer (been slacking on sewing lately because Dragon Age Inquisition was just released and that game is massive!).

Elizabeth is arguably the protagonist of the game even though you don’t control her. She lives in an alternate-1912 in a floating city in the sky called Columbia but she’s been kept in isolation since infancy by her father and leader of Columbia because of her “powers.” She has the ability to open up tears (not crying-tears, but ripping-apart-tears) in space time into other alternate, yet congruent, universes. Sometimes she brings pieces of other universes into her current one, other times she can move into a new universe.

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Elizabeth has two main outfits in the game. The first, when you meet her, is a cute school girl style outfit which represents her naiveté and isolation from the rest of the world. Then about mid way through the game, she changes into this outfit which symbolizes her maturity and the realization that Elizabeth isn’t really who she thinks she is. She also chops off her long hair.
The jacket and skirt are actually her mother’s, saved as a museum piece. You see plenty of references to her deceased mother throughout the game.
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This is the part where my historical accuracy nit picking comes in as neither the jacket nor the skirt fit the style of 1893-95, the time in which Elizabeth’s mother would have worn it, nor is it very 1912.

Also, there’s been plenty said about the fact that she’s wearing a corset for a shirt and over her skirt (which no one would ever do then), but uh, I’ll let it slide just this once…

But I chose this outfit over the first for two reasons: I had already made a corset (more on that below) and I didn’t want to buy a wig.

So let’s talk about the parts of the costume. Elizabeth is a fairly easy costume and because of that you see a lot of people dressing as her. You don’t really need any props. You’re not carving armor out of craft foam. You’re not building wings. It’s mostly just sewing. I can do that, right?
Jacket: Most people think that her jacket and skirt would be made of velvet but for the life of me I couldn’t find any royal blue velvet that wasn’t stretch or that crushed panne type. I thought pure cotton velveteen would be too heavy but it didn’t matter ’cause I couldn’t even find the right color in that.
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In the end I chose this poly satin from Hancock Fabrics. It’s got a good weight and it’s better quality and easier to sew with than some other polys I could have bought. Luckily it was also pretty easy to sew with.
It’s very shiny, though, and it desperately needs a pressing. It’s not that shiny in real life. I think my lighting kit I use to take indoor pictures just made the fabric look extra bright.
I modified the bolero from this steampunk Simplicity pattern. I narrowed the sleeves from the elbow down and added cuffs, each with a button (which you can’t really see in any of the pics, sorry). I also sewed the back seam tighter so it wouldn’t stick out so far away from my body.
I still need to add the collar (the original collar was a little big) and hem the jacket all the way around.

Corset: I made this corset to go with my Civil War costume and it’s the first corset I ever made. It’s plain white coutil and I used Laughing Moon #100, the Silverado corset with the bust gores. Only I feel the way you’re supposed to chose the bust sizing is a little misleading and I as a result it was way too big in the bust so I had to make the gores smaller and in the end it doesn’t give the best bust shape.

Also this pattern is supposed to end mid bust but maybe because of my sizing mistakes it fits much more like an over bust corset. Oh well, works for me.

Because I wanted to be able to take the trim off easily I hand basted the lace at the top and the black stripes which are velvet ribbon. I still need to sew the ribbon on the top and bottom edges of the corset but I can’t seem to find my extra ribbon right now…

Skirt: I modified this historical pattern from Butterick. It’s an Edwardian style dress with a skirt and bodice combo. I’m 90% sure it’s based on an extant garment covered in the awesome book, Costume in Detail. I recognized the dress on the pattern envelop and had to have it.

I sewed up the skirt pattern as-is only I’m begining to realize big 4 patterns seem to have EVEN MORE EASE in their costume patterns. I sewed a 12 and it was way to loose so I just moved the hook further over to make it tighter at the waist.

But wow, that original skirt was gorgeous! I wish I had taken a picture. The shape was amazing even without a petticoat and the big pleat in the back covers up the opening and adds some nice volume. It was definitely long but very pretty. I really want to make up that whole pattern now.

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But for this costume I lopped off a huge chunk of the hem because Elizabeth’s skirt has a white ruffle sticking out from under it.

Petticoat: I’ve seen this costume done two ways: with a ruffle stitched to the skirt hem and with a separate petticoat. My plan is to make a historically accurate Edwardian petticoat that can double as a petticoat for this costume which should work well since you only see the very bottom of it.

Accessories: In the game you Elizabeth is fascinated by two necklaces sold on a beach boardwalk (yes, they have a beach on a floating city, I don’t get it either) and you, the player, get to choose which one she wears. It’s a choker ribbon necklace with a glass cameo. I think I’m going to have to try to find one on Etsy or somehow make my own.

I also need to find some Victorian style lace up boots. I’ll probably buy some cheap-ish ones online.

And lastly, when you first meet Elizabeth you notice that her right pinky finger is short and covered with a thimble so I stuck a metal thimble on my finger although now I realize that it’s on the wrong hand in these pics. Oops.

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Here’s my list of what I have left to do:
– Get a necklace
– Add the jacket collar
– Hem the jacket
– Finish adding the ribbon to the corset
– Make a petticoat
– Buy some boots
– Iron the heck out of the whole thing so it looks good
I’m hoping to get it all done by mid-January so I can wear it to a games conference. Anyone else done any cosplay or steampunk or fun costumes like that?

Comments (27) for post “Cosplay Adventures in Progress”

  • Ah, cosplay! I love checking out the costumes with my husband on Reddit after big events. I’ve dressed as Kairi from the original Kingdom Hearts (husband went as Sora with a life-size keyblade made by his carpenter sister) and as Zoe from Left for Dead (husband went as Bill, carpenter sister went as Ellis from L4D2, and a friend went as a scary-accurate hunter). I’ve yet to make it to a convention, but PAX/PAX East is on my bucket list. Your Elizabeth costume looks fabulous, and you’ve got similar features to Elizabeth to boot. Can’t wait to see it finished!

  • Ha, what a nice thing to know about you! I used to play games but I stopped. I get addicted to them and then they suck up aaaaaall my time and I just can’t let that happen… It must be so much fun to make a costume like that AND get to wear it somewhere!

  • Haha, I got into sewing via cosplay – and it’s still the main reason I sew! I’ve actually been working on the schoolgirl Elizabeth costume for ages, but it keeps getting set aside because other cosplays end up taking priority because they’re for group competition! It’ll get done eventually, just like my Tali cosplay… But, if you’re looking for a good Elizabeth choker option to buy, I got mine from CosplayDesu on Etsy and I love it, it’s really nice quality (I could take some detail photos if you’d like).

  • I would love to do a cosplay but I think everyone I know would think I was a nutter! I bought the pattern to make a Snow White/Cinderella costume and the wizard of Oz costumes in the lasts implicitly sale. Now I’m just hoping for an appropriate event to make them for. I’m actually planning circus costumes for all of the family for Vinnie’s first birthday next year.

  • I’ve wanted to create a cosplay worthy costume of Dany from GoT for the past two years but haven’t gotten around to it. I think I’ve finally going to start, but like soon, o I can actually make it properly and have it done on time. I’d love to hear how you progress with this!

  • Thanks! The movie for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies is coming out next year and I am totally planning to use that as an excuse to make more regency costumes. If I add a sword holster it can count as a cosplay, lol.

  • Halloween it the perfect time for any costume and if you’re going all out and making a really nice version of the costume it could take quite a while. But if you start early then you can be finished by Halloween.
    And circus costumes sound awesome. 😉

  • Ha, thanks! I actually am slowly working on a Steampunk Little Mermaid costumes. We’ll see if it ever gets done. I’m also a trek fan so your costume sounds very cool!

  • I enjoyed it. I’ve played all three games and have been waiting for this game all year. Still, not my fave of the three but whoa, that ending had me like “what!?!?” It’s hard not to compare it to Skyrim. Crafting is much more involved which is good but they cut the detailed tactics that I really liked tweaking. Oh, and if you haven’t played Origins and 2 it might be hard to follow along – so much lore and history to catch up on.

  • I know what you mean about them being a time suck but I try to use game playing as a reward system. If I do x amount of sewing/cleaning/whatever then I can play my game for the rest of the night, lol.

  • Thanks, the super involved, 3D printed, intricately painted costumes that more advanced people make are mind blowing (and a little intimidating) but I love seeing the creativity of other cosplayers. I’ve got tickets to Pax South so I’m planning to wear it there, if I have the guts. I’m kinda nervous about it.

  • OMG if I have a dream cosplay it’s Tali although I doubt I’ll ever do it (most Mass Effect costumes are way to complex) but that’s so cool!

    Yeah, I tried looking up CosplayDesu but it’s gone 🙁 shoulda bought it when I had the chance. Thanks, tho.

  • Yes, Claire is really into researching the clothing and using a special timeframe to base the fantasy clothing on, so that it will look believable. She did other posts on historical fashion which are interesting as well. 🙂

  • As someone whose costumes have been mostly thrifted with a little sewing thrown in, I completely understand feeling nervous. But I would definitely still go for it! I’ve been to smaller events in costume and it’s great fun. Plus it’s a chance to expose non-sewists to our amazing hobby and meet others who share a passion for both making and video games.

  • Looks great. You are almost there. My partner works at Electronic Arts and has been busy playing Dragon Age lately. I love Hallowe’en and a few years ago he convinced me to dress up for Fan Expo. It was a very strange feeling. I felt like a celebrity for a day. People constantly take photos of you. One woman made me hold her baby for a photo. I did enjoy the process of making the costume though. My most recent Hallowe’en costume almost got the best of me. http://knittingaranchhouse.weebly.com/blog/game-of-thrones-halloween-or-how-i-broke-my-sewing-machine-and-serger

  • I was supposed to have it Tali for DragonCon two years ago to go with my friend’s Shepherd, but I underestimated how time consuming it is to paint on those swirls!

    I have both the bird and the cage cameo – if you’re interested I’m not gonna use both (only bought both because I’m indecisive haha), so I could mail one to you.

  • Yeah I’ve sen her stuff before and it is brilliant, but I don’t know if I’d be up to all that detail work just yet. I actually saw this one: http://www.cosplayisland.co.uk/files/costumes/8805/71745/CI_71745_1354474215.jpg in person at a game of thrones exhibit and wanted to try my hand at it, but I’d have to learn how to work with leather, and let’s be honest, I don’t want to dole out a ton of money on a hide just to screw it up. So we will see. But yours looks amazing! And no wig, what a bonus 🙂

  • Hi Dixie, I hope you see this–I am trying to find info on doing a swayback adjustment and EVERYONE is referencing that PatternScissorsCloth tutorial, but when I click the links I get a message that the blog is by invitation only, and there’s no way to contact the owner. I know I’ve seen her blog before so it’s just recently that it’s closed, I think. Any idea what I should do? Is the information available anywhere else?

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